Tin Soldier 2019
Tin Soldier is a skin-fermented wine made from Semillon gris, which is almost unique to South Africa, and a vestige of a time when Semillon was the grape on which the South African wine industry was built. The vineyard has been established from a sélection massale of Semillon gris cuttings taken from an adjacent vineyard of Semillon that was planted in 1964.
The colour of the wine is unusual, having taken some bright copper tones from about a week’s fermentation on skins. The nose is expressive with spice, sweet papaya, ginger, citrus peel and marzipan notes. Over the past couple of years, we have dialled the ripeness up a notch, making for a more complete and “grown-up” wine, which we feel is in a very good space with the 2019 edition.
The interplay between savoury and sweet is a key point of interest in Tin Soldier, and makes for a subtle and engaging wine. On the nose there is oyster shell, peach kernel and buttered toast. The palate is finely structured, with fresh acidity and full flavours of cape gooseberries, sesame seeds and Oolong tea. It is dry and delicate, while at the same time showing a core of richness and depth.
Nuts & Bolts
Semillon gris – Swartland (7 years old) – granite sands
About The Wine
If we go back 100 years, Semillon was responsible for probably 95% of the wine made in this country. Tim James’ research on the variety suggests that the red mutation may at one time have been even more common than the white. I’m really fascinated by the idea of the kind of wines that would have been made in the old days using these mixed vineyards, and this led me to the idea of fermenting the grapes on their skins for a few days.
The one thing we wanted to avoid here, was making a ‘gimmick’ wine. In the run up to our first harvest of this wine, we were still considering what our approach might be to this unique varietal. While sampling the vineyard and tasting the grapes, we hit on the idea of fermenting it on skins to bring out the wonderful skin tannins and hopefully extract some of that wonderful colour. The extraction is managed very carefully to retain a delicacy in the wine, while bringing out a lot of complexity. Through the years we have also included a portion of the wine that is directly whole-bunch pressed with no skin fermentation. This portion helps to lift the aromatic profile of the wine, and achieve this wonderful interplay of fruit and savoury tones that we enjoy in the wine.
It is truly a wine we love.
All of our wines take their names from archetypal childrens’ toys, and Tin Soldier takes its name from Semillon’s status as the old footsoldier of the South African industry. Much like the old toy soldiers buried in the garden, Semillon has been reduced to a mere shadow of its former glory days in the Cape.